Talisman Of El tells the story of 14 year old orphan Charlie Blake who, after managing to settle into his new home and new life with Jacob, discovers that his new father figure isn’t quite as he first appeared. Charlie has always experienced strange and vivid dreams which turn out to not be dreams at all but rather visions of the past. Through this Charlie finds himself thrown into a situation that sees the fate of the world lie within his hands as he sets off on and adventure to find Arcadia; a world housed within the centre of the Earth.
The first problem for me was the fact that I found it difficult to invest in both Charlie and the supporting characters. Although I didn’t necessarily dislike them, in particular Charlie and Alex, I still wasn’t strongly routing for them to succeed. There was also a third member of the group, a younger boy named Richmond, creating the classic YA/teen trio that can be found in a lot of books of this genre (due to the ages and some personality traits this trio reminded me most of Unwind’s protagonists). Sadly Richmond felt like an unnecessary addition to the story as overall he didn’t end up playing a huge part or bringing much value throughout the group’s adventure. When it comes to creating a strong trio I definitely felt that Derekin, a man from Charlie’s visions who is aging at an extremely fast pace, was a much more interesting and important part of the group who also provided more of an insight into Charlie’s character through their interactions.
Aside from Derekin and the trio there are a few other notable characters introduced when the story moves to the setting of Arcadia. Here we meet a whole host of other characters most of whom also felt fairly two-dimensional and underdeveloped. The fact that we don’t get to know the characters in much depth is understandable for a book of this length and is perhaps something that will be explored in the next instalment however I found myself getting a little confused by all of the new additions who’s names I can’t even remember a week after finishing the book. The world of Arcadia itself could also be considered an important character within the story and I have to say Stone has managed to create a rather intriguing place here which I can see younger readers instantly falling in love with.
The prologue itself was fairly intriguing and had a lot of potential so I expected to find interesting characters and a whole lot of adventure but overall I felt that Talisman didn’t quite fulfil it’s potential. Having said that I can certainly see why others would enjoy it but unfortunately Talisman just wasn’t for me. I think its also worth noting that although in some cases it has been labelled as YA I would definitely class Talisman as a Middle Grade read and would recommend it as a good adventure tale and perhaps introduction to the Fantasy genre for younger readers.
This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
Photo © Erin Elise